Hello! It’s CoChic Cool Chick feature time, and today we are featuring one of my fave girl boss CoChic Cool Chicks, Jenn Gaudreau, owner of Jennifer Kathryn Photography. You may recognize Jenn’s name because she took all of my branding photos that are on the CoChic Styling website and social media. She’s awesome! Jenn does both wedding and branding photography, and she will be joining me as a presenter at the Lofti Brand Storytelling for Small Business Workshop I’ve been talking about, which is coming up this Thursday evening! See info below:
Dedicate time and space devoted to build or evolve your brand. Spend a half-day with our team of branding experts. Build a strategic message platform, hear expert advice on how to link your personal and business brands, dive into visual storytelling or work on your in-person networking story and style. You’ll leave with clear next steps to grow your business brand. Enjoy a healthy meal to recharge mid-session and network with like-minded business owners.
Thursday, October 26th, 5 pm – 9 pm | LifeWorking Coworking in Lake Forest, IL
CONTACT ME at email@example.com for an amazing discount code on your ticket!
If you are new to CoChic Cool Chicks, welcome! CoChic Cool Chicks is an interview series, featuring inspirational women entrepreneurs who I am lucky enough to have in my girl boss network. These women are doing great things and whether you aspire to be an entrepreneur or not, I hope that they inspire you to do great things, too. I encourage you to check out their businesses, websites, and social media. And reach out to them, ask them questions, say hello. They’d love to hear from you!
Tell us about your business, Jennifer Kathryn Photography!
I am a wedding, lifestyle and branding photographer; I live in Chicago and often travel for assignments as well. I thrive on genuinely connecting with my wedding clients and taking beautiful, authentic images that capture the spirit and emotion of their celebration. I’m also passionate about creating brand storytelling head shots and styled stock imagery that convey the mission of your brand more powerfully to better attract your dream clients.
What made you decide to start your own business?
This is a fun one to think about, particularly because I had a friend in college who claimed she had an entrepreneurial spirit, and I remember thinking, “why would anyone want to start their own business??” 😉 But for as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by self discovery, personal growth, and connecting with others by sharing stories of our experiences. My childhood best friend and I would spend hours on personality quizzes, and when we’d analyze our results, we were amazed at our complete differences mixed in with peculiar similarities. We’d excitedly ask our other friends how they think and feel about life and just indulge in these conversations for hours.
That curiosity about the world around me and how others view life eventually led to me into the arts, music, travel, and then to photography. When I was only 15, I took my first international trip to India, and it forever changed me. I met so many interesting people and wanted so desperately to find a way to take home the stories I had learned. I had limited understanding and language for my experience, but the images I captured transcended that. I went a different direction in college, but my first job after graduation involved hiring photographers and organizing imagery for publications. I fell back in love with the craft, and I started working for two professional photographers. One was a true artist and taught me so much about finding my unique style. The other was a master in business and imparted his knowledge of sales and marketing. When that season came to an end, I found a job working for another studio. I quickly realized the things that really drew me to photography — the opportunity to connect with people and to understand who they are, and to then find a way to capture that in imagery — got lost in the rush of pushing out projects as quickly as possible. I was at a crossroads, and I knew I had to make a shift.
And just like that I made two really big leaps. I decided that yes, I DID want to start my own business, and then I moved halfway across the country from New York to Chicago, having only been there once and not knowing anyone very well. I was fortunate to build a network of wonderful friends and colleagues early on, and my business took off! Throughout the past eight years, there have been a lot of highs and lows, and I’m constantly improvising and reinventing myself. The most exciting change to my business in the last few years has been my shift to include a full suite of branding photography services. I love meeting other creative entrepreneurs, and it just lights me up to tell their brand story in a visual way.
Who is your ideal client?
My dream wedding clients are always up for an adventure whether traveling the world or exploring their own city. Their friends are like family and they spend nights out over cocktails and rich conversation; and they know that some nights just call for pizza and Netflix and home. Often close with their families, they cherish their heritage while also creating new meaningful traditions of their own.
My dream branding client is most often a creative woman in business who is passionate, motivated, and down to earth. She’s a bit of J. Crew with a dash of Kate Spade, and she can make a t-shirt and jeans looks just as sophisticated as a cocktail dress and heels. Champagne moments with friends are pure gold, but so is a night in curled up at home with a book. Her weekly routine may include yoga, spinning or meditation, and she’s very involved in giving back to the community.
What do you love most about being an entrepreneur?
There are so many things I’m grateful for. The autonomy, creating meaningful work, and empowering others are probably the things I love most about running my own business. I love seeing ideas take shape. I love being around other people who are doing meaningful things in the world. And I love seeing people light up when they love their photos.
What is the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur?
Because I live and breathe my business, I am often renegotiating my boundaries between my personal and professional life. They sometimes bleed together, and I need to prioritize self care in the midst of very demanding projects. I’ve grown a lot in this area, but it’s also been easy in the past to collapse my identity with my business. There’s a lot of internal work to re-frame this, but it’s a continual opportunity for growth.
What has been your proudest moment in business so far?
I’ve celebrated a lot of milestones this year – rebranded and launched a new website, completed my 8th year in business, surpassed a revenue goal, and hit 250 weddings photographed. But my proudest moment was actually just realizing that I’ve built the business I had dreamed of when I moved here. I am doing what I love full time, and I have the most wonderful clients. Of course I’m always focused on growth and what’s next for my business, but I’ve been learning to step back and be grateful – to celebrate the milestones rather than let them get lost in the hustle.
I’ve also been getting more organized with my finances and working on transforming my mindset around money. Prior to this year, I was always hustling without really knowing how close I was to hitting my goals at any given time. Knowing my numbers has been a huge confidence booster, and it’s also helped me operate more out of an abundance mindset.
What is your best piece of business advice?
You will go through so many highs and lows as a business owner. Always surround yourself with good people — peers who can both encourage you and help keep you accountable. Join a mastermind. Hire a business coach!! I cannot stress how important community and coaching have been for my growth as a business owner.
Do you have any tricks of the trade you could share with us?
Good light and proper angles are crucial for the best results in photos. If you don’t love how you look in photos, chances are there are some really easy technical things a good photographer can use to make you look your best!
In my work for my clients, I really focus on getting to the heart of who they are– their love story, their brand story, their genuine personality. I believe that how we appear on the outside can be a powerful representation of who we are on the inside. Particularly because photography is so visual, paying attention to the details of hair and makeup and wardrobe styling is so important for a photo shoot. I love that you offer your expertise for branding shoots, engagement sessions, and even weddings, and I would encourage anyone being photographed to hire a stylist.
Thanks, Jenn! How would you describe your personal style?
My personal style is pretty classic and simple. I like neutrals with pops of color and I’ve really been into floral prints lately. When I’m working at home, I’m typically pretty casual, but I love an opportunity to dress up for a night out. I love color, but I also feel you can never go wrong in a black dress and red lips.
What does being CoChic (Comfortably Chic) mean to you?
I think being CoChic is embracing who you are and being comfortable in your own skin, no matter what you are wearing. Style can influence how we feel about ourselves and wearing something fabulous can be really empowering, particularly when a woman feels like it enhances her natural beauty and personality.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Just that I’ve loved working with you and I think every woman owes it to herself to try out your services!
You are too sweet! I loved working with you, Jenn! Thanks so much for your thoughtful answers and business insights! xo, Alyssa